Dovecot Studios – William Morris Exhibition Part Two

As mentioned in my previous blog post I visited ‘The Art of Wallpaper – Morris & Co’ exhibition at the Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh in May of this year. To say that this was one of my favourite exhibitions I have seen recently is an understatement – I came away wanting to decorate my future house with everything and anything William Morris designed and made!

When I do decide to decorate every inch of my future home with everything William Morris & Co inspired or influenced I have got ample inspiration from the display of wallpapers and textiles on display at this exhibition. Within the exhibition there were two curated rooms featuring William Morris wallpaper, furniture, prints, rugs, and textiles. As pictured above the wallpaper is of a rose trellis design on a white ground with matching cream Chesterfield style sofa, bamboo matts, botanical prints, and leaf printed material ottoman.

Against the back wall there were several boards of different Morris & Co wallpapers including one with roses and poppies, one with leaves, and one with an Oriental influence. These could be used in any combination with the prints and furniture on display. Though personally I would only have one feature wall of Morris & Co wallpaper if you have neutral furniture a room of the entire wallpaper could be beautiful. 

Along the accompanying wall were several more prints of wallpapers (see above) that would also work with the white chesterfield sofa and furniture. Again, the curatorial use of the leaf green against the framed images of wallpaper with a predominance of green was particularly effective as again it gives the viewer the idea of how one could decorate one’s home with a combination of wallpaper and matching paint. I was particularly fond of the acanthus leaf print (to the left of the above picture) in tones of orange, brown, and green.  This wallpaper would particularly work in a room with original Victorian furniture or with teak or beechwood furniture. 

Towards the end of the exhibition there were examples of wallpaper designed by members of Morris & Co’s staff including William Morris’ daughter, May Morris, who was an exceptional artist in her own right. These wallpapers above are from the 1890s and early 1900s and clearly show the influence of the Art Nouveau movement in their sinuous and flowing lines in the form of leaves, flowers, and birds.

In this section there was a rare example of hand printed and designed piece of wallpaper of flowers on a ground of grass with a green background. Within the frame there are handwritten notes by William Morris on how this particular example was to be improved including notes on design, choice of colour, and placement of flowers. To see Morris’s thinking process first-hand is astounding as it clearly shows the depths he went to make sure every printed wallpaper met his exact specifications.  

As already mentioned this was one of my favourite exhibitions I have seen in the last year; the sheer scale and choice of curated wallpapers examples that were on display were astounding. The viewer was spoilt for choice in terms of colour, design, and construction when viewing the wallpaper samples. Interestingly including how these wallpapers were made gave the a viewer a greater understanding of the labour intensive process of making hand-made wallpapers. Thus making sure that we appreciate the crafts men and women of today who also undertake laborious processes to make beautiful items for our consumption. 

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